Here's what Philip has to say, which offers a most intriguing glimpse of the great man at close quarters:
"Michael Innes wrote dozens of golden age whodunnits, most of them featuring John Appleby, the detective who rises to become Commissioner at Scotland Yard. Under his real name, J.I.M.Stewart, he produced a substantial quantity of straight novels as well as academic studies. (Innes was his middle name.) Stewart was a long-time Fellow of Christ Church, Oxford, and his crime fiction regularly had the ‘donnish’ label attached to it.
When I was at university in the late ’60s, I went to see Stewart lecture because I’d enjoyed a couple of the Appleby books and was curious to see him in academic action. Appleby and donnishness perhaps represented the antithesis of almost everything that was happening in universities in 1968/9, and Stewart looked a bit of a throwback compared to trendier lecturers like Christopher Ricks or John Carey. With his well-cut suit and silvery, slicked-back hair, he reminded me of an uncle of mine who was an accountant.
Stewart had written all or most of the ‘modern’ volume of the Oxford History of Literature, which first appeared in 1963. This was a time when the cut-off date for literary studies at Oxford was 1945, so the modernists he discussed were authors like Thomas Hardy, Henry James and James Joyce. I think that he was talking about Joseph Conrad that morning. The lecture wasn’t very well attended and, disappointingly, he didn’t really address the few people in the room but merely stood at the lectern and read - head down - from the relevant chapter in his book. The only moment I remember is that he had evidently changed his mind about something he’d written for he suddenly glanced up and said: “That’s nonsense, by the way.” He didn’t expand on why it was nonsense but went back to reading from his script.
J.I.M. Stewart’s straight novels are pretty well neglected these days, which is a pity as in their circuitous way they have quite a bit of charm and narrative dexterity. In particular his quintet, A Staircase in Surrey, is difficult to put down (round about the time you’ve reached volume 3). So it’s good to see some of the Appleby books are reprinted by House of Stratus and also available on Kindle."